62 pages 2 hours read

Gordon Korman


Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2021

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The Complexity of Motives

Korman’s exploration of the complexity of motives is perhaps best exemplified through the contrasts between his foil characters: Pamela and Link as well as Caroline and Adam. Link and his father also provide opportunities to explore the interconnection between productive and destructive intentions and outcomes.

When Michael considers who the culprit might be in Chapter 12, he cycles through a range of possibilities from vandalism to revenge. Dana, in Chapter 8, suspects that the vandal is “a juvenile delinquent trying to freak everybody out” (50). This turns out to be true in Link’s case: He explains that he did the first swastika effectively for that reason, to do something serious that would freak everyone out, as his past pranks were meant to make people laugh. Pamela, on the other hand, was motivated by bigotry. Like Pamela, Pouncey has family members who were at the Night of a Thousand Flames, but whereas Pouncey repeatedly distances himself from his family, Pamela embraces the hateful ideology she grew up with. When she contacts Link after they are both outed, Link quickly realizes the huge difference in their motives and does not hesitate to address it: “I did something stupid […] You did something hateful” (173).